Can old dogs learn new "transfusion requirements in critical care": a survey of packed red blood cell transfusion practices among members of The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma

Am J Surg. 2015 Jul;210(1):45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2014.08.024. Epub 2014 Oct 13.


Background: The objective of this study was to characterize variations in packed red blood cell (PRBC) transfusion practices in critically ill patients and to identify which factors influence such practices. We hypothesized that significant variation in transfusion triggers exists among acute care surgeons.

Methods: A survey of PRBC transfusion practices was administered to the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma members. The scenarios examined hemoglobin thresholds for which participants would transfuse PRBCs.

Results: A hemoglobin threshold of less than or equal to 7 g/dL was adopted by 45% of respondents in gastrointestinal bleeding, 75% in penetrating trauma, 66% in sepsis, and 62% in blunt trauma. Acute care surgeons modified their transfusion trigger significantly in the majority of the modifications of these scenarios, often inappropriately so.

Conclusions: This study documents continued evidence-practice gaps and wide variations in the PRBC transfusion practices of acute care surgeons. Numerous clinical factors altered such patterns despite a lack of supporting evidence (for or against).

Keywords: Critical illness; Hemoglobin; Red blood cell transfusion; Survey methodology.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Societies, Medical
  • Traumatology* / education
  • United States